Effectiveness of Public Deliberation Methods for Gathering Input on Issues in Healthcare: Results from a Randomized Trial

Kristin L. Carman, Coretta Mallery, Maureen Maurer, Grace Wang, Steven Garfinkel,

The U.S. health care system’s complexity, coupled with the emotional and personal nature of serious illness or injury, often makes it difficult for policymakers to obtain informed public views to help guide decisions on complicated health care issues.

Unlike surveys and focus groups designed to measure the prevalence and range of opinions, public deliberation encourages people to become informed about a topic and consider alternative perspectives. This study asked 1,338 participants to consider the policy issue: “Should individual patients and/or their doctors be able to make any health decisions no matter what the evidence of medical effectiveness shows, or should society ever specify some boundaries for these decisions?”

The study found that, compared to the control group, public deliberation increased participants’ knowledge of medical evidence and comparative effectiveness research and shifted their attitudes about the importance of medical evidence in treatment decisions.

This article was published in the May 2015 volume of the Elsevier journal, Social Science & Medicine.